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Tag archives for Ravinder Bawa

Kumbh Mela 2013: The Water’s Dirty but Nobody’s Sick

The latest figures on water quality in the Ganges, straight from the Central Pollution Control Board—a government organisation charged with monitoring it daily during the Kumbh Mela—suggest that contrary to earlier reports, it’s neither drinkable nor batheable. Given that 80-odd million people are expected to bathe in the river during the festival, I asked head of medical…

Kumbh Mela 2013: Picking Flowers

Allahabad is a city of 1.2 million people, and despite the proximity of its bigger, noisier neighbour, the Kumbh Mela, life goes on there—including death. The funeral ghats on the Ganges were moved away from the sangam—the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers—for the duration of the festival, but they are still within the…

Kumbh Mela 2013: Lost and Found

There is a stubborn rumour here at the Kumbh Mela that some people come to abandon elderly female relatives and children in the crowd. There are two lost and found camps on site, one of which is run by 86-year-old Raja Ram Tiwari, who took the initiative after seeing an old woman weeping uncontrollably at…

Kumbh Mela 2013: Holy Men

Naga Baba Jai Giri Ji has long, long hair. He hasn’t cut it for 15 years, and when he dances in the processions that the holy men lead to the sangam on bathing days, he loops it over his arms so that it doesn’t trip him up. Lakshman Giri is also famous for his headgear,…

Kumbh Mela 2013: Bathing in the Ganges

If you climb up to high ground above the river plain, you begin to get a sense of the scale of the Kumbh Mela, especially at night. It stretches off in all directions. The sky above it is as light as the sky over a large metropolis, only there are no highrises here—nothing much higher than a lamp-post, in fact. The noise from hundreds of loudspeakers is incessant and very loud—like a human rainforest, technically enhanced.